How To Have Healthier Lunch Meetings (Willpower Not Required)

by | Jul 14, 2014

Photo by Yarden Sachs

Len Markidan writes about productivity and work/life balance at Home Office Hero. He’s also the Director of Marketing at Groove. To get his latest posts, sign up for his newsletter or follow him on Twitter.

How To Have Healthier Lunch Meetings (Willpower Not Required)

by Len Markidan

A few years ago, I decided to start making healthier food choices.

I threw out the cookies and processed junk in my house and went on a farmers market shopping spree, where I finally learned to properly pronounce “jicama.”

I felt GREAT. I was a new man.

For the first eighteen hours or so, anyway.

Because eighteen hours later, you see, I had to meet a client for lunch.

And while I walked in confident about my commitment and eager to pick the healthiest salad on the menu, here’s what actually happened:

Len: [Open the menu and catch myself lingering on the cheeseburger description. Quickly flip to the salads.] Mmm, the spinach and chicken salad looks good. The avocado jicama one, too. [Look up to make sure everyone caught me pronouncing jicama like a boss.]

Client: I’ll have the bacon cheeseburger.

Len: [Slam menu closed, hate myself.] Make that two, please!

Willpower has never been my strong suit.

To deal with that, I’ve had to build systems to make myself less dependent on willpower, in all areas of life.

I learned how to ride motivation waves to be more productive, even when I don’t feel like working.

I created a five-minute ritual for work/life separation to stop myself from constantly checking my work email at night.

And shortly after that lunch meeting, I developed an approach that has helped me keep my lunch meetings healthy and temptation-free ever since, without having to depend on my own willpower.

Today, I want to share that approach with you…

A Simple Technique For Healthier Lunch Meetings

When I’m scheduling a lunch meeting with someone, I always look at the restaurant’s menu while we’re planning.

That’s when I pick what I’m going to order, without hunger, distraction or the temptation of my companion’s cheeseburger influencing my decision.

Then I include it in my email to them, like this:


Len Markidan ST Guest Post Screenshot


If it seems ridiculously simple, that’s because it is.

But despite its subtlety, there’s a powerful force at play here: accountability.

Sure, I could choose a salad and tell myself that I’m going to order it, but if I change my mind at the last minute and order the burger, nobody will know except me.

But with this approach, not only will I notice if I change my plans, but the person I’m eating with does, too.

And simply knowing that changing my mind might influence the person’s judgment of me, or that I might have to answer to “I thought you were going to have the skirt steak salad,” is more than enough of a barrier.

Simply put, it makes it a lot easier for me to stick with my original plan and get the salad than to call an audible and get something worse, regardless of what sounds good at the time, or what everyone else is ordering.

Do this now: do you have someone you’ve been meaning to meet with? Reach out and schedule a lunch meeting, and use the technique above. You’ll improve your business relationships and keep your healthy decision-making on track.

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4 Responses to “How To Have Healthier Lunch Meetings (Willpower Not Required)”

  1. Laura Bruzas says:

    Great idea! I did something a few years ago, too, to solve the same problem: created a healthy dining restaurant go guide for Chicago and suburbs. Chock-full of more than 50 eateries. It provides me with an updated list of places that I know for sure will offer me healthy options. I keep a copy with me at all times to insure that when I eat out I’m eating not only great tasting food but food that is healthy, too, from places that serve wholesome whole grains, use healthy fats and oils in their dishes,
    include locally-sourced, seasonal, sustainable and organic menu options, offer healthy vegetarian/vegan-friendly menu options, etc.

    I do plan on taking “my plan” a step further by implementing your idea and selecting what I will eat in advance to avoid making a dining design I will regret later.

  2. Belmarra says:

    Nice Article!! Very helpful for me.

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